Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bar: Kedah ban on fatwa challenge unconstitutional

The recent amendment to the Kedah Mufti and Fatwa Enactment (2008) barring all fatwas (edicts) from being challenged in court is unconstitutional, the Malaysian Bar said today.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee today said the amendment “purports to oust the jurisdiction of the Courts”, which goes against the Federal Constitution.

“Article 121 of the Federal Constitution does not confer upon any state legislative assembly the legislative power to enact laws that exclude the jurisdiction of the Courts,” Lim said today in a press statement, adding the amendment “also goes against the doctrine of separation of powers”.

“In a modern democratic framework, each of the three main branches of government has its respective role,” he explained.

“The doctrine is to establish a system of checks and balances among the three branches, to prevent any form of abuse of power by any branch”.

“With the amendment, however, fatwas in Kedah are made absolute,” he added.

Lim reminded members of the Kedah legislative assembly of “the oath they took to uphold the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land”.

“This amendment must not become or remain a law of the state, as it is contrary to that oath.”

On April 17, the Kedah state legislative assembly approved law that makes it an offence for anyone to question any religious edict made by the state mufti or fatwa council.

In an immediate response, Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya had labelled the amendment un-Islamic and asked if the Kedah PAS-led administration wanted to become a theocratic government instead of forming Pakatan Rakyat’s often-promoted progressive, welfare state.

The controversial decision has caused an uproar among various groups, including the Barisan Nasional component parties.

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